I was summoned. I got the notice in my mailbox towards the end of July and it was for jury duty for this past week. This was the 4th time for me to be called for jury duty and I took it as a grain of salt because the past three times were all different experiences even though I was not picked to serve on the jury. I went to the courthouse and marveled at its beauty. It was what it’s suppose to feel like when you go to court. I was greeted with two huge pillars that would take five people all holding hands to surround one pillar. Walking up the steps to my destiny, I was early, but still behind a good amount of people already there. After going through security, about 50 of us all went into a big room and sat there. We stood in line again and registered our jury tags, or should I say, we were all scanned. We sat for a bit and then were called into a huge court room that was absolutely beautiful. Our jury manager told us a bit of history of the building such as it was built in the 1800′s and recently it had been renovated. I glanced around and took in all its beauty and was quite impressed. Sitting there with 50 other potential jurors (there was now 100 people), the feeling was slightly intimidating that would make one feel to not want to appear in court. We were told this particular court room was a ceremonial court room and that the Supreme court judges from our State had been here recently. We watched a video explaining our responsibilities as jurors (if picked) and then the remaining time everyone was deathly silent. You could hear a pin drop. The man next to me was chatting and I would respond almost in a whisper because it was like all 98 people were listening to him talk. The first 50 people names were called and they all went to another court room. From there, the jury would be determined. I was in the last group of 50. Once in the jury selection room, we all waited.
If being in the ceremonial court room wasn’t intimidating enough, going before the judge was even worse. If your name was called, you had to stand before the judge and tell her your name, where you live, what you do, education, who you live with, what newspapers you read, what shows you watch, if you had a driver’s license and if you had a bumper sticker. Once you got through that process, you then met privately with the judge and the two lawyers who all would agree if you qualified or not to sit or if you were dismissed. A lot of people were dismissed and FIVE hours later my name was called. I felt so nervous, but the calming smile and nodding of the judge’s head put me at ease. I gave her my information (more like squeaked) and then met privately with the three. All three grilled me about laws and other things. I answered as best as I could. They all seemed impressed and the judge quickly told me “welcome to the jury, please take a seat”. Once seated, some jurors were dismissed by either lawyer and the selection started again to fill in that seat. Once I was seated, I had my poker face on and looked straight ahead. The clients and their lawyers were constantly checking out the jurors and whispering to one another. Dare I even breathe wrong?
All the seats were officially taken now and the remaining jurors were told to have a good day and goodbye. The rest of us sat there and immediately the session began. We were told beforehand and it was strictly enforced to not talk about this case to each other at all during the trial days! So, we jurors had to hold in our opinions until today (deliberation and verdict day). We were constantly being monitored and watched by two security cameras, our jury handler, the judge, lawyers, their clients and security in the back. During each day after getting chosen as jurors, we had specific rules to follow and rooms we had to go to. Each time we were escorted by our jury handler. We would meet upstairs in the 3rd room and wait until we were called to go to the jury deliberation room. From the jury deliberation room, we were then escorted to the court room. Upon entering the court room, we had to enter according to our jury seat number. I was always last. Every time we entered the court room, the judge, two lawyers and their clients stood up to greet us. When we left our seats, they would stand up again. This procedure made us feel very important.
Our last day was today and I had already knew by the first day what my verdict was. I was still fair in wanting to hear both sides equally, but the facts stood out the most and how they were presented by each lawyer made the difference. It also helps that if you are going to court and pretend to limp as the plaintiff did, don’t walk normal (without a limp) once you are out of court during lunch hour, as one of my fellow jurors noted. She only stated this observation after we gave our verdict. We went back into court and gave our verdict.
A fun fact we discovered while waiting in a room with other jurors is that one of the jail cells on the third floor is haunted! A man was murdered and he haunts the court house. I always felt something creepy about that jail cell each time we passed it. Lol.
I’m glad I got to serve, I know most people don’t like serving jury duty, but it was my civic duty. Besides, being a huge John Grisham fan (my favorite author in the world) and have read some of his books, I was in my element. I can now understand more (than I already knew) how the judicial system works and the psychology of it all once I begin reading more of his book. My next John Grisham book waiting for me to read is called, appropriately, “The Last Juror”.
In other news, mom is doing amazing and might get out of rehab this week. Work will resume tomorrow and I have a lot to catch up on. A lot.